Riot Games has decided that the LCS studios will no longer host live audience, tailgates, and press, effective immediately. The decision was made because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which continues to spread and affect thousands across the world. Both LCS and LCS Academy matches will continue to be played, albeit from an audience-less studio.
Riot makes clear in the announcement that they haven't reached a decision yet when it comes to the LCS Spring Finals this year, which is supposed to take place mid-April in Texas. They'll continue to monitor the situation and follow developments closely, and will share their decision next Friday, on March 20.
The statement, made by LCS Commissioner Chris Greeley, also reads: "We know this may be disappointing to our fans, but we ask for your understanding with this very difficult decision." Fans in possession of a ticket to LCS matches can get a refund for their ticket—Riot is in the process of figuring the refunds out.
This decision is the latest in a large series of esports events being affected by the Coronavirus outbreak. As of this week, all LCK matches are fully suspended, and all LPL matches are being played online after the competition took a multi-week hiatus as the Coronavirus spread. Other esports and gaming events, including Overwatch League Homestands, TwitchCon Europe and E3, have all canceled their events.
Update: March 12, 8:37 AM PST:
Following their North American colleagues, the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) has also announced that it will no longer let fans and press visit the competition. Head of Esports Europe, Alberto Guerrero, states: "After careful consideration we have decided to cancel the onsite audience and press attendance in the LEC studio for the remainder of the Spring Split, including the Finals."
Like for the LCS, all LEC ticketholders will be refunded.